18 Dec 2013
As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, it brings us to consider the matter oflife. Life is everywhere around us but we often take so much of life for granted. On that day when the angel Gabriel greeted Mary “Hail, favored one, The Lord is with you” He came with an announcement of life. “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 "And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end."
Mary had an excellent question. “How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel explained that the life in her would not occur in the natural way, but it would be a once in forever kind of intervention of God into the lives of men. He explained that the Holy Spirit would provide the means for a virgin to conceive a child. This would be the very work of God creating life and in this Life exists the seed of life for all mankind.
God is the author of life. He is the creator and sustainer of all life. The life that God created has within it the capacity to reproduce. “All true life has within it seed that inherently has the capacity to reproduce life.” - Warren Wiersbe In the human kind, God designed that physical life would require both the life of the male and the life of the female coming intimately together to reproduce life. This is not the creation of life but simply the reproduction of the life that was originally created by God.
The birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ was the introduction of an entirely new quality of life, spiritual life, a personal relationship between man and God. This relationship is reproduced not by physical activity but by believing faith. Just as God in the person of the Holy Spirit joined together with man in the person of Mary, God desires that we be joined with Him in a personal relationship that will reproduce the life of God in us. This is the life that Jesus called “abundant life” and which He proclaimed and promised that He came to provide.
God has placed within the human heart a deep longing for this life. Further He has given us a guide Book along with a personal Guide in order that we might find and experience this abundant life to the full. However to a lesser or greater extent most of mankind rejects in part or in whole the provisions of God that can clearly lead us to experience the depth of this amazing relationship with Him.
Paul explains in his letter to the Romans that it is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that God by grace births us into a personal relationship with God. Using the faith of Abraham as an example Paul explains the righteousness that accrues from faith in the promises of God.
Romans 4:18-24 (NASB95)
18 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, "SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE."
19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb;
20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,
21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.
22 Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
23 Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him,
24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,
In this case Abraham had no encouragement from his natural eyes or understanding that what God had promised would occur. In fact he possessed overwhelming physical evidence that what God had promised could not possibly come to pass. Nevertheless Abraham chose to believe God and not place his trust in the things that he knew and could see. This we are told was credited to him as righteousness. Paul further instructs that this is our means also for righteousness if we believe.
It is apparently very easy to become fuzzy in our thinking as it relates to pleasing God. We often think that if we simply “man up” and get busy serving God we will find much favor in His sight. There are without doubt works which God has marked out beforehand that we have been chosen to walk in, however it seems that this walk must be a walk of faith and submission not simply one of self determination.
It may be that this is the point that humility turns out to be the hinge pin for faith. Humility among other things longs to simply submit and seek the path which brings the greatest glory to God. The “man up”, “get the job done” approach usually involves a significant portion of un-submitted self.
Jesus describes the working of humility in the simile of a grain of wheat.
24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
25 "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.
26 "If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. - John 12:24-26 (NASB95)
Faith and humility seem to work hand in hand. For example both faith and humility are regularly required to let go of something in order to receive something superior. We see this clearly in the interaction between the rich young ruler and Jesus.
Matthew 19:16, 20-22
16 And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" 20 The young man said* to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?" 21 Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
This person was not willing to give up the riches he had in his hand in exchange for the treasures that Jesus promised would be his in heaven. Before we are too hard on this man we must in all fairness move in front of the mirror and authentically look directly into its truth. Abundant life comes primarily through faith. Often the requirements of this faith are to let go of the plastic pearls we have around our neck in order to gain the pearls of great price in heaven. Do you believe? Do you deeply desire a life filled to overflowing with eternal rewards?
The quality of our spiritual lives will be without doubt directly related to the depth of our faith. Spiritual life is multiplied and reproduced by faith. Jesus came that we might have this abundant life as our present and persistent possession. Is Jesus asking you to release your grip on something in this life in order to express your faith in His promises? Are you willing to ask Jesus to show you?
Faith breathes life into our prayers. Submission encourages affirmative answers. Will you pray this Christmas season not my will but your will be done? This is a prayer that reproduces life!